The majority of fatigue crack growth tests worldwide makes use of the compact tension (CT) specimens that are not necessarily representative of cracks developing under service conditions in highly stressed components of a jet engine. Over the years other geometries have been designed to facilitate a study of relatively small, semi- or quarter-elliptically shaped surface flaws subjected to high tensile and compressive stresses. Despite an extensive use by the aerospace community, practical aspects of testing and data analysis relevant to the complex surface- or corner-flawed geometries are not regulated by a commonly accepted set of rules.
Two types of test specimens — CT and surface-crack tension (SCT) — were machined from a forged and heat treated Inconel 718. For both geometries the crack orientation and propagation direction with respect to the original forging were the same.
The CT specimens were tested in accordance with the ASTM Standard E647 as well as using an alternative compression pre-cracking procedure. After correct application of the compression pre-cracking to the CT geometry both approaches had yielded reasonably consistent results. At high ΔK values both studied geometries also produced similar results, however, as the ΔK values decreased, a trend towards slower crack growth rates in the SCT specimens became evident.
In order to address a so-called small-crack effect, several SCT specimens received much smaller crack starter notches produced by the focused ion beam (FIB) technology.
The results of the present study highlight the importance of the appropriate material properties for accurate and reliable service life prediction of the critical aerospace propulsion hardware with particular emphasis on the influence of specimen/crack geometry and test method on the fatigue crack propagation behavior of jet engine alloys.